& cplSiteName &

Sprint Promises 180Mbit/s 'Peaks' in 2015

Dan Jones
6/18/2014
50%
50%

CHICAGO -- Light Reading's Big Telecom Event 2014 -- Sprint sparked up the morning keynote of Light Reading's largest-ever event with a tale of how it will up its LTE speeds in US cities through 2015.

Jay Bluhm, vice president of network development and engineering for Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), kicked off Day 2 of BTE with a rundown of the carrier's ongoing 3G and 4G updates with Network Vision and Spark. Bonding radio channels with carrier aggregation through LTE Advanced is at the basis of the Spark update, but Sprint takes it further with software upgrades, multiple antennas (MIMO), and updated radio technology at the cellsite, alongside tri-band MIMO rollouts on the device side.

"By 2015 you're going see these peak speeds of 180 Mbit/s, where you're getting peak speeds of 60 Mbit/s today," Bluhm told the audience. (See Sprint's Spark: It's Fast but No Multi-Tasker.)

Bluhm Sparks Up BTE
Sprint's Jay Bluhm talks LTE in Chicago.
Sprint's Jay Bluhm talks LTE in Chicago.

At the very heart of the Spark upgrade is 1,900 MHz, 800 MHz, and 2.5 GHz tri-band LTE support: 1,900 MHz is the workhorse frequency that gives Sprint widespread outdoor coverage; 800 MHz provides better indoor coverage and improved range; while the 2.5 GHz channel is the racehorse, providing peak speeds in urban areas. (See Igniting the Future: Sprint Spark.)

Triple Threat
Sprint's Workhorse, Pony Express, and Racehorse frequencies for LTE depth.
Sprint's Workhorse, Pony Express, and Racehorse frequencies for LTE depth.

8T8R? Come again?
Multiple antenna arrays combined with eight-transmit/eight-receive (8T8R) radios at the cellsite will boost the range and speed of the LTE TDD 2.5 GHz element of Sprint's Spark offering. Sprint has said previously that it will start deploying that technology around the middle of this year. (See Defining 4G: What the Heck Is LTE TDD?)

8T8R is a term that we are all likely to see more of soon. Current cellular design typically uses two transmit and receive paths -- 8T8R has eight. 8T8R enables wide-range "beamforming," which means that the operator can direct a beam to a specific user's device, improving the speed, range, and signal-to-noise characteristics of the transmission. (See Sprint: LTE TDD Speed Boost Coming Soon.)

Long-time readers will remember that these concepts were originally tried out with WiFi, way back in 2002. They were also floated as a WiMax booster, but LTE overtook that specification as the preferred 4G technology. (See Vivato Switches Sides.)

8T8R has become possible for cellular because the technology has shrunk enough that a multi-element antenna array and a remote radio head (RRH) can be installed to support 8T8R at a cellsite. For instance, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) writes that its "RRH on band 41 [2.5 GHz] supports up to 160 W total (8 times 20 W) and up to 120 MHz of aggregated carrier bandwidth to fit with Sprint large TDD bandwidth and capacity needs." (See What the [Bleep] Is Fronthaul? for more on what RRHs are.)

Beamforming and vastly increased transmit and receive paths will likely eventually become part of the 5G specification, too. (See DoCoMo Unveils 5G Trial Plans.)

Don't forget that MIMO and multiple frequencies will also require bigger antenna arrays and tri-band support at the device for best performance. Bluhm notes that Sprint already has a raft of tri-band devices available as it deploys Spark upgrades in major US cities. (See Fanning Sprint's Spark in NYC.)

The Big Picture
The board tech elements that will allow Sprint's speed bump.
The board tech elements that will allow Sprint's speed bump.

Sprint has access to up to 120 MHz of 2.5 GHz TDD spectrum in 100 major markets, Bluhm says. This means that it is planning to hit three-channel radio carrier aggregation on that frequency in 2015.

Now We're Bonding
Three-channel carrier aggregation delights the radio wonks in the crowd in Chicago.
Three-channel carrier aggregation delights the radio wonks in the crowd in Chicago.

Carrier aggregation in the LTE Advanced specification (3GGP Release 10 and beyond) is at the root of Sprint's Spark advance, Bluhm says, but the operator will take it further with software updates and device support. "The infrastructure we're deploying is capable of supporting three carriers, which will get you 180 Mbit/s peaks."

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
pcharles09
50%
50%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
6/24/2014 | 9:38:32 PM
Re: They need this sooner rather than later...
I agree. I've stood in the same spot (maybe moved about a step or 2) & watched my coverage flip-flop between 3G & LTE. One 'works', the other doesn't. It's extremely annoying.
DanJones
50%
50%
DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
6/20/2014 | 7:27:52 PM
Re: They need this sooner rather than later...
Its going to take a while whatever, you don't do this big of an upgrade in a few months.
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/20/2014 | 9:02:13 AM
Re: They need this sooner rather than later...
I spend so much time traveling around the country I just can't rely on Sprint or T-Mobile's network just yet since coverage in many places remains abysmal. I'm stuck on Verizon for now (begrudgingly given their closed and locked device policies). Happy to jump to Sprint if they can get the network up to snuff. 180 Mbps isn't as important to me as overall coverage and signal reliability.
pcharles09
50%
50%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
6/19/2014 | 10:00:59 PM
Re: They need this sooner rather than later...
So much for the NOW network. I feel like it's the waiting network. I had better speeds when I'm roaming on Verizon's network.
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/19/2014 | 10:54:44 AM
They need this sooner rather than later...
They need this sooner rather than later. The LTE network they have continues to lag in all big four LTE speed and latency tests. With Sprint, it feels like the kind of network everyone wants always feels indefinitely around a bend....
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders grills Cisco's Roland Acra on how he's bringing automation to life inside the data center.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
February 26-28, 2018, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
SmartNICs aren't just about achieving scale. They also have a major impact in reducing CAPEX and OPEX requirements.
Hot Topics
Here's Pai in Your Eye
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 12/11/2017
Project AirGig Goes Down to Georgia
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/13/2017
Verizon's New Fios TV Is No More
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 12/12/2017
Ericsson & Samsung to Supply Verizon With Fixed 5G Gear
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/11/2017
Netflix Evaluating AI for Personalized Trailers
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 12/8/2017
Animals with Phones
Don't Fall Asleep on the Job! Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed